Santa Monica, Calif., May 19, 2011 — SolarReserve, a U.S. developer of solar power projects, announced the U.S. Department of Energy’s offer of a conditional commitment for a $737 million loan guarantee for the 110 MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project to be built in Tonopah, Nev.
The DOE loan guarantee offer is a critical step in the progress of this landmark project, with construction slated for the summer of 2011 and the start of operations in late 2013.
Upon completion, SolarReserve‘s 110 MW Crescent Dunes project will be the largest molten salt power tower project in the world and will provide electricity to nearly 75,000 homes during peak electricity periods.
The power from SolarReserve’s project will be provided to NV Energy under a long-term power purchase agreement approved by the Nevada Public Utilities Commission in 2010.
The solar energy project is expected to create more than 600 jobs on the project site over the 30-month construction period, and more than 4,300 direct and indirect induced jobs in the facility supply chain including manufacturing, value-added services and transportation.
Additionally, the project will employ 45 full time operational staff and will spend upwards to $10 million per year in operating costs and is forecasted to generate $37 million in total tax revenues over the first 10 years of operation — contributing to workers’ paychecks, service businesses, local school systems and police and fire departments.
SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, located in Nye County, Nev. near the town of Tonopah, was approved by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to construct and operate the facility on public land in December 2010.
SolarReserve’s solar power tower technology generates power from sunlight by focusing the sun’s thermal energy utilizing thousands of sun-tracking mirrors (called heliostats) onto a central receiver.
A salt compound, heated to its liquid state, is circulated through the receiver to collect and store that energy. The heated salt then flows to an insulated storage tank, where it is stored for use during times when direct sunlight is unavailable, allowing for 24-hour-a-day power availability.
When electricity is needed, the hot salt is sent to a heat exchanger to produce steam, which in turn drives a conventional steam turbine electrical generator.
The cooler molten salt is stored, ready to be reheated by the sun and used again as part of a continuous closed loop. The system is completely self-sustaining and emissions free — no fossil fuels are required.